Mar 24, 2020


Sonny Malone (Michael Beck), a thin, long-haired 1980s hippie who likes to roller skate everywhere, wants to be a great painter, but he's stymied by his job reproducing rock album covers.

Kira (Olivia Newton-John), who is really Terpsichore, the Muse of Dancing inspires him to pursue his dream.  She inspired Michelangelo, Shakespeare, and Beethoven, so she knows talent.

Wait -- why would the Muse of Dancing inspire painters, sculptors, playwrights, and composers?

 While wandering on the beach, Sonny hooks up with retired jazz musician Danny McGuire (dance legend Gene Kelly), who has also abandoned his dream of opening a jazz club (ok, well, he had one, inspired by Kira, in 1945).

 Danny openly, obviously courts Sonny, who obviously relishes the attention of a potential sugar daddy.  It becomes most blatant when Danny invites him home to his palatial mansion (apparently being a failed jazz musician pays very well), gives him "the tour," and looks just about to lead him into the bedroom, when Sonny inexplicably leaves.  With a look of consternation ("Darn! I thought for sure I was going to get laid!"), Danny sits down and fantasizes about Kira (apparently the next best thing).

 Sonny and Danny decide to pursue their dreams together.  But what sort of dream can be pursued by a painter and a jazz musician (played by a famous dancer)?

The answer is obvious: they open a roller disco!

Somebody didn't think this through.

Meanwhile Kira falls in love with Sonny -- chastely, with no sex, but still against Muse rules.  She has to return to Olympus, but the gods grant her one last night on Earth. She spends it singing.  But not to worry,  Sonny immediately latches onto a waitress at the club who looks like her. Or maybe she's a reincarnation.  Or maybe. . .

While watching, one continually thinks, who wrote this?  Who thought it was a good idea to put Gene Kelly on roller skates?  Who didn't shoot a retake when Kira calls Sonny Danny?  

Nothing about this movie makes a bit of sense.  Maybe that's why it was popular with gay audiences.  It was one big raspberry at the conventions of heterosexual romance.


  1. A bad movie classic- Michael Beck is totally miscast - he can neither sing or dance what is he doing in a musical? The gayest musical number is when they take Gene Kelly shopping for clothes- in some bizarre disco inspired stored with some androgynous chorus people. There are also some cute male dancers at the end but this is a really bad movie

  2. Never seen it, looks like that's a good thing, too.

  3. In one of Joe Keenan's books, the gay characters stay in at home one night and watch "something dreadful called Xanadu." Thanks to your post, I now know what they were talking about!

  4. This was a trainwreck, and I used to "roller boogie".

  5. pffff! if you ever get a chance to see it on a big screen, ignore these comments and just go and enjoy it. the last dance number is mind blowing, there's music to sing along to, it's a gigantic folly whose only purpose is to entertain. some movies are judged by how much they have you thinking after you leave the theater. this one will stick with anyone who's ever been in or has wondered about musicals and live performance, in a 'how did they do that?' kind of way.

  6. Xanadu has a lot of gay subtext- Kira and Sonny have zero chemistry- but Sonny really bonds with Danny who keeps talking about their business partnership if it was a marriage- at the fade out you can really imagine sugar daddy Danny and boy toy Sonny living happily ever after.


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